Bruce and Sally Dunlop foster - could you?
With Foster Care Fortnight running from Monday 13 to Sunday 26 May, we're inviting anyone who would consider a career as a carer to come to a drop-in event at a private room in Lasswade Library between 4pm and 8pm on Thursday 16 May.
The joys and challenges of fostering
Here we speak to Bruce and Sally Dunlop about the joys and challenges that come with fostering.
When often nervous and traumatised children arrive at Bruce and Sally Dunlop’s house, they only have to look at the bench rack by the kitchen to get a flavour of what life will be like in their foster care.
The best job
Overflowing with wellies in all shapes and sizes, the rack is testament to Sally and Bruce’s belief that caring is about spending time with children, whether that’s wading through the river on the Clerk Estate, a picnic lunch on the beach or a board game after tea.
Sally, who has been fostering with her husband for six years, says: “If you like being with children and having fun, fostering is the best job out there but you really need to put the children first.”
The former science teachers, who live in Penicuik, do just that. Now offering short term care for late primary and teenage children, their fostering weekends can be spent hunting for frogs, firing up a barbecue or fruit picking.
Sally and Bruce have fostered 22 children in total. Sally says she would encourage others to foster. She says: “I think the most rewarding part of fostering is seeing them (the children or teenagers) grow in confidence because they feel secure.”
A variety of reasons
Children come to the Dunlops for a variety of reasons, sometimes they live at home with a parent but their mum or dad is ill and needs a break. Sometimes they are already in care but their existing carers have a commitment and need to go away for a few days or sometimes the children are taken into respite care.
Whatever the situation, the Dunlops, who have three grown up children and four grandchildren, are there with a welcome smile and a warm home.
A bedtime story
Bruce says: “Often it’s the ones who have the most bravado who are the most frightened and insecure. They’re the ones who most want you to read them a story at night.”
Sally and Bruce are quick to point out not all children and placements are without their challenges although Sally insists she’s had more troublesome pupils in her classroom.
When challenges arise, the council’s social work team has always offered effective support.
Among Sally’s standout moments as a carer was spending a wet and windy day watching Boys Brigade cross country racing. She explains: “The teenager we were looking after was competing and he’s always given up before if something got too hard. In this race though, we watched him push through and his team came second. He was absolutely delighted and we were so, so proud of him.”